The Christian and hospitality: Putting the gospel on display

May 5, 2017

In the past two years, I’ve moved quite a bit—10 times to be exact, 11 if you count my move this past weekend. Three states, seven families and nine internships and jobs later, I’ve become a moving expert. Every four months or so, I load up my boxes and books into my paint-chipped ‘03 suburban that takes about as much oil as it does gas. I take a deep breath and crank the ignition, hoping it will hold out for one last move.

Throughout this extended two-year adventure, I have been graciously welcomed into homes, but more importantly, into families. I have lived with many and shared meals with many more.

Each time I came needing a place to live or food to eat, but left with so much more than a roof over my head or a full stomach. I left feeling loved by my Savior and seen by my brothers and sisters. And I have learned that hosting and being hosted has eternal value because the people who gather in these homes have eternal value.

Christian hospitality may not look like the perfect pictures in the magazines, but I’m grateful these families and friends have invited me into the mess—the beautiful mess of loving deeply because of the one of who first loved them (1 John 4:19).

The call to hospitality

I used to see hospitality as a gift that few had, with my mom being the foremost example. My mom is the hostess of all hostesses—she can make a feast out of fixin's and make a home full of screaming boys feel like a safe haven. From the shelves stacked with disarrayed books to the fresh scent of lavender soap, she knows how to make a house a home. The window decorations, paint color, mantle dressings and picture frames make our home special, but as I look back, that’s not what made my mom a great host. It’s what made her a good interior decorator. What made her a good host was that everyone knew if they came to our home, our door was wide open, always figuratively, often literally.

Hospitality isn’t a responsibility only given to women and moms. It’s given to Christians of all stages.

The sink might not be be clean, the floors unswept and the laundry unfolded, but she will feed you. While it might be a crockpot dinner or cold pizza, you’ll never leave hungry. She’ll sit, listen and weep with you over a tough day, or a tough year. She’ll laugh with you, plan with you and cheer for you. She’ll tell you often that she doesn’t know what she’s doing, but nevertheless, invite you to learn from her mistakes. Most importantly, she’ll open up her marked up and worn Bible and speak the words of Scripture into the deepest parts of your soul, even if you don’t personally know the Jesus she serves. My mom became a good host because she regularly practiced hospitality, especially when it was inconvenient.

Hospitality isn’t a responsibility only given to women and moms. It’s given to men (Prov. 31:20; 1 Tim. 3:2) and Christians of all stages, as well. Thankfully, my father graciously supports my mom in this ministry—their ministry—and allows my mom to serve best when she knows he has his hands and his heart open too.

We can’t wait until we have everything perfect to invite friends and strangers into our homes. While hospitality might look different in each season, we shouldn’t wait until the kids are out of diapers, the refrigerator is stocked with food or until we ladies have on a full face of makeup. We should just serve, in whatever capacity we can.

Peter tells us to, “Show hospitality to one another without grumbling” (1 Pet. 4:9). The verses before and after this verse are even more instructing:

Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. . . . As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ.” (1 Pet. 4:8, 10)

Peter shows that hosting and being hosted displays the gospel because God is glorified through our service to others.

The simplicity of hospitality

Some of my favorite times are sitting around the table or even standing at the countertop, grabbing a quick meal of leftovers before scattering off to the next activity. The short “hellos” and even shorter “goodbyes” in the throes of daily life are sweet because of the people I’m coming and going with.

Hospitality can be that simple. It may be as easy as inviting a college student to help you cook dinner while the kids are bathing. Or, it may look like hosting lunch after church on Sunday. My favorite tradition growing up was designating one night out of the week where members of my family invited someone to share a meal with us.

When summer comes to a close in a few short months, I’ll pack up my boxes once again, load them into my still-surviving suburban and drive to another place I’ll call home. In the meantime, I will spend my afternoons and evenings sitting around different kitchen tables across the city, talking about things of God as I watch the gospel being lived out in front of me. The people I’ve seen open their homes are usually the ones who are least expected to—the ones with five or more children, busy jobs, sick family members or hardly an extra room or dining room chair to spare. But I’m thankful these things never stopped them.

Stepping on LEGOs, washing marker-stained fingers, cleaning up messes, sifting through mismatched socks—I’ve been a part of everyday, and sometimes inconvenient aspects of people’s lives, all because someone invited me in (Rom. 12:13). I’ve seen the struggle, and I’ve seen the joy—and I’m different because of it. Most of all, I dream of the day I have a place of my own—and then a family of my own—to open to whoever would like to come on in and witness the everyday realities of life as a Christian.

Lauren Rae Konkol

Lauren Rae Konkol serves as the Team Coordinator. She assists the Washington, D.C. office with scheduling, event planning, office coordination, and project management. Before joining the ERLC, Lauren worked for the Ethics and Public Policy Center. She received a B.A. in Political Science from The University of Central Florida and … Read More

Article 12: The Future of AI

We affirm that AI will continue to be developed in ways that we cannot currently imagine or understand, including AI that will far surpass many human abilities. God alone has the power to create life, and no future advancements in AI will usurp Him as the Creator of life. The church has a unique role in proclaiming human dignity for all and calling for the humane use of AI in all aspects of society.

We deny that AI will make us more or less human, or that AI will ever obtain a coequal level of worth, dignity, or value to image-bearers. Future advancements in AI will not ultimately fulfill our longings for a perfect world. While we are not able to comprehend or know the future, we do not fear what is to come because we know that God is omniscient and that nothing we create will be able to thwart His redemptive plan for creation or to supplant humanity as His image-bearers.

Genesis 1; Isaiah 42:8; Romans 1:20-21; 5:2; Ephesians 1:4-6; 2 Timothy 1:7-9; Revelation 5:9-10

Article 11: Public Policy

We affirm that the fundamental purposes of government are to protect human beings from harm, punish those who do evil, uphold civil liberties, and to commend those who do good. The public has a role in shaping and crafting policies concerning the use of AI in society, and these decisions should not be left to those who develop these technologies or to governments to set norms.

We deny that AI should be used by governments, corporations, or any entity to infringe upon God-given human rights. AI, even in a highly advanced state, should never be delegated the governing authority that has been granted by an all-sovereign God to human beings alone. 

Romans 13:1-7; Acts 10:35; 1 Peter 2:13-14

Article 10: War

We affirm that the use of AI in warfare should be governed by love of neighbor and the principles of just war. The use of AI may mitigate the loss of human life, provide greater protection of non-combatants, and inform better policymaking. Any lethal action conducted or substantially enabled by AI must employ 5 human oversight or review. All defense-related AI applications, such as underlying data and decision-making processes, must be subject to continual review by legitimate authorities. When these systems are deployed, human agents bear full moral responsibility for any actions taken by the system.

We deny that human agency or moral culpability in war can be delegated to AI. No nation or group has the right to use AI to carry out genocide, terrorism, torture, or other war crimes.

Genesis 4:10; Isaiah 1:16-17; Psalm 37:28; Matthew 5:44; 22:37-39; Romans 13:4

Article 9: Security

We affirm that AI has legitimate applications in policing, intelligence, surveillance, investigation, and other uses supporting the government’s responsibility to respect human rights, to protect and preserve human life, and to pursue justice in a flourishing society.

We deny that AI should be employed for safety and security applications in ways that seek to dehumanize, depersonalize, or harm our fellow human beings. We condemn the use of AI to suppress free expression or other basic human rights granted by God to all human beings.

Romans 13:1-7; 1 Peter 2:13-14

Article 8: Data & Privacy

We affirm that privacy and personal property are intertwined individual rights and choices that should not be violated by governments, corporations, nation-states, and other groups, even in the pursuit of the common good. While God knows all things, it is neither wise nor obligatory to have every detail of one’s life open to society.

We deny the manipulative and coercive uses of data and AI in ways that are inconsistent with the love of God and love of neighbor. Data collection practices should conform to ethical guidelines that uphold the dignity of all people. We further deny that consent, even informed consent, although requisite, is the only necessary ethical standard for the collection, manipulation, or exploitation of personal data—individually or in the aggregate. AI should not be employed in ways that distort truth through the use of generative applications. Data should not be mishandled, misused, or abused for sinful purposes to reinforce bias, strengthen the powerful, or demean the weak.

Exodus 20:15, Psalm 147:5; Isaiah 40:13-14; Matthew 10:16 Galatians 6:2; Hebrews 4:12-13; 1 John 1:7 

Article 7: Work

We affirm that work is part of God’s plan for human beings participating in the cultivation and stewardship of creation. The divine pattern is one of labor and rest in healthy proportion to each other. Our view of work should not be confined to commercial activity; it must also include the many ways that human beings serve each other through their efforts. AI can be used in ways that aid our work or allow us to make fuller use of our gifts. The church has a Spirit-empowered responsibility to help care for those who lose jobs and to encourage individuals, communities, employers, and governments to find ways to invest in the development of human beings and continue making vocational contributions to our lives together.

We deny that human worth and dignity is reducible to an individual’s economic contributions to society alone. Humanity should not use AI and other technological innovations as a reason to move toward lives of pure leisure even if greater social wealth creates such possibilities.

Genesis 1:27; 2:5; 2:15; Isaiah 65:21-24; Romans 12:6-8; Ephesians 4:11-16

Article 6: Sexuality

We affirm the goodness of God’s design for human sexuality which prescribes the sexual union to be an exclusive relationship between a man and a woman in the lifelong covenant of marriage.

We deny that the pursuit of sexual pleasure is a justification for the development or use of AI, and we condemn the objectification of humans that results from employing AI for sexual purposes. AI should not intrude upon or substitute for the biblical expression of sexuality between a husband and wife according to God’s design for human marriage.

Genesis 1:26-29; 2:18-25; Matthew 5:27-30; 1 Thess 4:3-4

Article 5: Bias

We affirm that, as a tool created by humans, AI will be inherently subject to bias and that these biases must be accounted for, minimized, or removed through continual human oversight and discretion. AI should be designed and used in such ways that treat all human beings as having equal worth and dignity. AI should be utilized as a tool to identify and eliminate bias inherent in human decision-making.

We deny that AI should be designed or used in ways that violate the fundamental principle of human dignity for all people. Neither should AI be used in ways that reinforce or further any ideology or agenda, seeking to subjugate human autonomy under the power of the state.

Micah 6:8; John 13:34; Galatians 3:28-29; 5:13-14; Philippians 2:3-4; Romans 12:10

Article 4: Medicine

We affirm that AI-related advances in medical technologies are expressions of God’s common grace through and for people created in His image and that these advances will increase our capacity to provide enhanced medical diagnostics and therapeutic interventions as we seek to care for all people. These advances should be guided by basic principles of medical ethics, including beneficence, non-maleficence, autonomy, and justice, which are all consistent with the biblical principle of loving our neighbor.

We deny that death and disease—effects of the Fall—can ultimately be eradicated apart from Jesus Christ. Utilitarian applications regarding healthcare distribution should not override the dignity of human life. Fur- 3 thermore, we reject the materialist and consequentialist worldview that understands medical applications of AI as a means of improving, changing, or completing human beings.

Matthew 5:45; John 11:25-26; 1 Corinthians 15:55-57; Galatians 6:2; Philippians 2:4

Article 3: Relationship of AI & Humanity

We affirm the use of AI to inform and aid human reasoning and moral decision-making because it is a tool that excels at processing data and making determinations, which often mimics or exceeds human ability. While AI excels in data-based computation, technology is incapable of possessing the capacity for moral agency or responsibility.

We deny that humans can or should cede our moral accountability or responsibilities to any form of AI that will ever be created. Only humanity will be judged by God on the basis of our actions and that of the tools we create. While technology can be created with a moral use in view, it is not a moral agent. Humans alone bear the responsibility for moral decision making.

Romans 2:6-8; Galatians 5:19-21; 2 Peter 1:5-8; 1 John 2:1

Article 2: AI as Technology

We affirm that the development of AI is a demonstration of the unique creative abilities of human beings. When AI is employed in accordance with God’s moral will, it is an example of man’s obedience to the divine command to steward creation and to honor Him. We believe in innovation for the glory of God, the sake of human flourishing, and the love of neighbor. While we acknowledge the reality of the Fall and its consequences on human nature and human innovation, technology can be used in society to uphold human dignity. As a part of our God-given creative nature, human beings should develop and harness technology in ways that lead to greater flourishing and the alleviation of human suffering.

We deny that the use of AI is morally neutral. It is not worthy of man’s hope, worship, or love. Since the Lord Jesus alone can atone for sin and reconcile humanity to its Creator, technology such as AI cannot fulfill humanity’s ultimate needs. We further deny the goodness and benefit of any application of AI that devalues or degrades the dignity and worth of another human being. 

Genesis 2:25; Exodus 20:3; 31:1-11; Proverbs 16:4; Matthew 22:37-40; Romans 3:23

Article 1: Image of God

We affirm that God created each human being in His image with intrinsic and equal worth, dignity, and moral agency, distinct from all creation, and that humanity’s creativity is intended to reflect God’s creative pattern.

We deny that any part of creation, including any form of technology, should ever be used to usurp or subvert the dominion and stewardship which has been entrusted solely to humanity by God; nor should technology be assigned a level of human identity, worth, dignity, or moral agency.

Genesis 1:26-28; 5:1-2; Isaiah 43:6-7; Jeremiah 1:5; John 13:34; Colossians 1:16; 3:10; Ephesians 4:24